Short, smart Gus is regularly tormented by Bo, a "thirteen-year-old in the body of an eighteen-year-old with the mind of an eight-year-old." In their hot, dry, rundown town of Nowhere, Arizona, kids like Gus who don't race dirt bikes are, socially speaking, the lowest of the low. So, it is the highest sacrifice when the best dirt bike racer in town, Rossi, a citizen of the Tohono O'odham tribe, offers her beloved bike to Bo to save Gus. Determined to make things right by her, Gus agrees to Bo's ridiculous demand for a piece of gold from the collapsing mine outside town in exchange for the bike.
In no time, Gus, Rossi and two former friends who have unexpectedly joined the foolhardy expedition get lost in a mine, trapped in a cave-in, attacked by wild animals and nearly drown in a mysterious underground lake with skeletons and "strange mutant albino shrimp." They're also coming to terms with the idea that even if their ancestors were murderous, mortal enemies--which, well, they were--the kids don't need to carry on the feuding tradition.
Readers who loved Holes and Dusti Bowling's earlier novel, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, will be delighted with 24 Hours in Nowhere, a similarly captivating novel abounding in wordplay, eccentric personalities and an evocative setting: "Nowhere was the best at a lot of things: number one in poverty, number one in high school dropouts, number one in least livability, number one in drunken mine deaths. We tried not to let it all go to our heads." Maybe they should. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor